Are You Winning at Customer Service?

November 3, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Everybody wants answers, especially to problems, and they expect your customer service department to be on 24/7. This is especially true in the B to C market.

I recently had trouble with a wine cooler that was one month out of warranty and quit. Needless to say, I wasn’t a happy camper and I let the manufacturer know on their website over a weekend. To my surprise, I got an answer within a few hours and they are working with upper management to solve my issue. Now they may just be blowing smoke and we’ll see, but their responsiveness made me cool down a bit.

I ran across a study recently in “How to win at customer service,” that claimed most people just want their questions answered.

Attitudes Toward Customer Service Among Internet Users Worldwide, Aug 2015 (% of respondents)

Here are some highlights:

  • 81% of those surveyed just wanted their questions answered
  • 89% feel more positive about brands that give good customer service
  • 46% tell their friends and family about a quick response time

So what does all this mean to the manufacturing sector? Well the bar isn’t raised too high and we certainly don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Here are some tips on how to serve the professional tradesman:

  • Keep your customer service department open on business days from 7 AM to 5 PM EST. If the contractors are having issues, you need to be available when they are working.
  • Staff your customer service department with experienced people who can answer questions, troubleshoot a problem or forward them onto someone who can.

A post you may want to read, Customer service: How are you handling unhappy people, may be a good read. A good customer service department can help increase future sales by giving them a positive experience

Does Your Lead Nurturing Deliver Strong Results?

October 7, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

First of all, do you have a lead nurturing program? If the answer is no, you may want to consider one and here’s why.

In a recent article in, there were some interesting findings in a study done by Demand Gen Report (DGR) in July of 2015

  • Over 50% of U.S. B-to-B marketers said nurturing programs outperformed their counterparts from 10-30%.
  • These leads outperformed others in moving through the sales funnel, and respondents reported a 10-30% increase in sales opportunities.

Types of Lead Nurturing Campaigns Currently Used by US* B2B Marketers, July 2015 (% of respondents)

The key in lead nurturing is being able to define specific markets and subsequent messaging. You need to be relevant. Email was the most widely used tactic with over 94% using it.

Another interesting stat is that 42% of consumers will delete an email if it isn’t mobile friendly, so keep that in mind.

So do some of these stats resonate with what you’re doing?

If you like this post you may want to read:

Lead Nurturing: What Industrial Marketers Need to Know.

For Your Lead Nurturing Program-Where do you Find Good Content?

What’s the Difference Between Lead Nurturing and Follow-up Calls?

LinkedIn Still the Top Performer for B-to-B

February 17, 2015

I don’t know about you, but LinkedIn continues to be a top performer for me and my blog posts. The top referrer is search engines, but LinkedIn is a strong second and Twitter is third for getting the right eyes on my blog.

A recent article in confirms the fact that among top social sites for B-to-B, LinkedIn remains on top for both usage and effectiveness.

I use LinkedIn exclusively to share my posts with not only the folks that linked to me, but to the numerous LinkedIn groups that I belong to. I’ve had clients who have great success in recruiting the right kind of talent using their paid job searches.

Are you using LinkedIn, and if so, are you having similar success?

Manufacturers: Are You Missing Out On Video Opportunities?

October 14, 2014

Video is one of the most powerful tools in your marketing toolbox. Why aren’t you focusing more on them?

A recent study from eMarketer showed that even though consumers wanted more video, 75% of U.S. marketers said videos are not a priority, and nearly half said they had no plans on increased efforts this year.

According to eMarketer, consumer-branded video increased over 16% from January to June 2014 to almost 3 billion views a quarter.

We’re a visual society with a 30-second sound bite mentality. Why not use video to deliver your message in a different way? In today’s world with the use of smart phones and desktop editing suites, compiling a video isn’t hard or expensive anymore.

The more successful videos have to do with a single subject and usually run under 2 minutes in length. And, if appropriate, add a little humor (everyone likes to laugh). Manufacturers have plenty of options for using video. Instructional how-to videos, training sales/reps, new product intros and testimonials to name a few.

Next to Google, YouTube is the second biggest search engine. Let potentials find you. Obviously the demand is there. Don’t be left on the sidelines.

If you like this, you may want to read:

Have Your Videos Gone Viral?

Why Videos are Such an Important Way to Reach the Professional Tradesman.

B-to-B Marketers: Are you Taking Advantage of Online Videos?

40% of Salespeople Aren’t Making Their Numbers. Can Marketing Help?

April 22, 2014

I recently read an article in that dealt with sales stats in 2013, and that almost 40% of the sales forces weren’t making their numbers and it floored me. I sure wouldn’t want to be running a company based on sales of XXX and then the sales force under-delivers by that large of a difference-Yikes!

2013 wasn’t a bad year for the economy (we’ve seen a lot worse), and I can’t help but wonder what their issues were in closing the sale. One of the biggest reasons given was the sale ended in a “no decision.” What does that mean?

Here’s an interesting graphic:

It sounds to me like either the leads weren’t qualified correctly or the salesman didn’t do his homework in determining where the prospect was in the sales funnel. It also sounds like there were multiple decision makers in the process and possibly they all were not included in the sales pitch. A few other things bother me as well:

  • What I can’t understand in this report is that 31% were unable to effectively communicate value to a prospect – yes, you heard me right.
  • 26% had content that wasn’t aligned with the buyer
  • 20% didn’t have the necessary content or resources for selling

This sounds like a great opportunity for marketing to step in and help fill the content voids they are talking about. It also begs the question of whether these results were from a traditional selling model versus that of one using social media as part of the mix.

If you had good content that was searchable on the internet, chances are the right people will find that info long before they identify themselves to you as a prospect and get a lot of their basic homework done first. You’d be able to show your expertise in a market segment so they think of you as an industry expert, which will help set you apart (value of your brand) when they finally decide to contact you. Marketing can help answer those questions ahead of time if we know the different stages of the selling cycle and what’s important to address at each level.

Am I missing the boat here or do you agree?

Do You Have a Strategy for Negative Social Media Posts?

April 16, 2014

I’m amazed by the stats that more than half of those on social media don’t have a plan to respond to negative social media posts.  Social media isn’t new, isn’t going away, and if you’ve followed or read anything about this space, you know there have been numerous posts about the subject.

The February 2014 research from Social Media Marketing University substantiates the notion that people still aren’t taking this seriously.

Negative issues need to be addressed and what better way to hear about issues than on social platforms. Don’t you want to know what customers are saying about you? You’d better be monitoring them and jump in with a plan to respond. There are several monitoring options out there will help you. Here are some free ones – Social mention, Google alerts, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.

I recently had an experience with a major faucet manufacturer about a replacement. We had to get a new tub at home and my wife wanted to update the faucets, which we did. The manufacturer sent the wrong spout and it took our plumber almost 2 months to get the replacement for it. They weren’t good at customer service, just making excuses. I made mention (by brand name) on a tweet what my frustration was, and true to form, heard nothing back.

In the short run, ignoring me may not be a big deal to them since I had already purchased the tub set, but in the long run, my wife is planning to replace all the faucets in our 3 bathrooms. Guess who isn’t going to be considered for that purchase?

In a world where we have alternative plans for everything, don’t overlook social responses to negative posts. It’s better to address them straight on or they will fester and come back to bite you when you least expect it. Have a plan in place.

Are You Using Influencers in Your New Product Launch to Professional Tradesmen?

April 15, 2014

When you’re planning your next new product launch beyond your traditional media lists that you send to, are you utilizing the Influencers in the market you’re going after?

Most times you don’t think about those bloggers out there that have big followings in the markets that you’re trying to reach.

An Influencer is someone who is able to mobilize options and create reactions when talking about a specific market or topic. They are the kinds of folks you want talking about you and your products. For example, if your target is mechanical contractors, you should be talking with John Mesenbrink from mechanical-hub. His blog is known throughout the industry and he’s a respected source of information.

Beyond getting them samples to try, they are looking for material you can provide so they can produce their own content. If possible, some exclusive little tidbits are always helpful. They can spread the word to a large number of your target audience in a short period of time…that’s the good news. The  potential bad news is you can’t send them a press release and expect them to run it as is. Influencers make and have opinions, and we always run the risk that they may not be as kind as you would in evaluating the product. They will always be fair, but to some marketers, that’s a relative term.

Long-term strategy would be to identify and start-up a conversation long before you launch that new product. Get to know them and they you. Again, it’s about relationships.


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